3 Birds represents the dragon, the phoenix, and the owl: my totems, pieces of me that I honor and call upon in my life and in my work. They symbolize the values that I hold around wholeness, integration, and alignment: Being all the parts of who we are – the light and the shadow. Living all the dimensions of our lives – the rising and the stumbles. Choosing from a place that is grounded in Love.
My dragon represents my fire. For most of my life, I tried to ignore or subdue that dragon energy, fearing its extremes of aggression and anger. Then I realized it had also given me gifts: it made me strong, and a force in the world, and a protector, and un-bully-able. In the legend of Saint Martha, she is said to have saved a village from a fearsome dragon – the villagers tried and failed to kill it, but she approached it as a friend and “tamed” it. What if the dragon’s rage and hostility were rooted in its exile? What if, instead of fearing and hating it, I could learn to befriend it, to integrate it into my identity in a healthy way? Now, when the dragon inside me starts to stir, I know that some value or boundary of mine is not being respected, and that I need to act from a grounded and responsible and compassionate place before the dragon is called upon to protect me in a more dangerous fashion. The dragon teaches me – in my own life as well as in my coaching – that our shadows serve a purpose, and make us whole.
A phoenix represents the cycle that I’m always living through – strong and mature and certain, then coming apart, falling to the earth, and catching flame, then finally struggling up through the ashes wobbly and raw, and learning to fly again. While we celebrate and are celebrated when we rise up in triumph, it’s hard to acknowledge and accept the part of the cycle where the person we have been dies, or something happens to evict us from the life we knew. We want to avoid or hide the part of the cycle where we’re in pain, or don’t know what we’re doing – and people in our lives, even people who love us, tend to look away at these times. Yet, this cycle is a natural and recurring one, and there is value in each stage. The phoenix process makes space for me to fully experience, learn from, and honor each part in my own life – and to support others as they do the same in theirs.
The owl, symbol of the Greek goddess of wisdom Athena, represents my wisest, highest self. My highest self is in alignment with the universe and with its central motivating force: Love. It is rooted securely in the uniqueness of who I am. It has faith that I have what I need within me to find or chart my own path, and that I can summon the courage to do the next right thing. I often think of it as my future self – the 90-year-old who knows how everything turns out and that it was all for the best, and who both loves me as I am right now and is also yearning for me to continue to become. The owl reminds me that standing on my own sacred ground is the most honest and powerful place to be. From that place I can serve others as they identify and stand on their own values, and as they connect to their own innate wisdom.
3 Birds. In my coaching, these symbols support me in being who I need to be: a fiercely loving warrior willing to set something on fire, or sit with you in the darkness, in the service of your becoming.